Thursday, October 31, 2013

He could not sleep. Oh, he tried but the deadline to create loomed hours ahead, weight of a novel yet to be written.
Begin me.
"I can’t," he said. "There are rules."
The novel said, louder, BEGIN ME.
"No," he said, unafraid of a story he had yet to write.
The novel was silent.
Hr tried to write it, hours later. He had notes, had characters, had outlines and plots and … nothing. The novel had found someone else to write it instead.

Two years later, he found the title of his novel on the bestseller list.
He could have bought a gun.
He could have committed some horrible acts, signed his work as ‘begin me’.
He wrote a review that scathed and damned his novel, that went viral and tore it down from its high perch on the sales lists.
He became a critic; his words had such power that no movie was ever optioned. He waited, grimly, for his novel to understand. And fear.

Road Trip Chapter 3

 3. Inconvenience Stores

Jay slips up beside me into the front seat after five hours, his stomach growling loudly. The magician is dead asleep in the back, head against the window and Jay puts on the seat belt carefully as his stomach gurgles again. There is no sign of the magician having marked him but he looks almost frail and moves stiffly as if his body wasn’t quite his own. The kid’s stomach seems to harbour no such issues.


He rolls his eyes. “Can we get food?”

“Can we get food?” I press.

He scowls. “Can we get food, pleathe. I’m thtarving,” he adds, not trying to avoid the ess at all.

I pull into the first fast food outlet I spot, a KFC nestling the edges of the highway. I wonder how many jokes are made about chicken’s crossing roads but Jay says nothing at all and just grabs the first of the three buckets I order and begins eating each piece of chicken ravenously: bones, skin, meat and all.

I have no idea what the girl serving it to us makes of that and drop a ten as a tip before pulling away. Jay starts into the second bucket as a normal rate, gaze flicking warily over to me.


He gulps back chicken. “Much. Lotth,” he adds, sticking out his tongue, and goes back to eating the chicken with a huge grin.

I eat a piece with one hand and resist the urge to give him a thwack on the head with the chicken, mostly because he’d steal it from my hand and eat it in a heartbeat. “You’re going to want more, aren’t you?”


I don’t press him on avoiding saying yes and finish one piece before starting on a second. I hand over
all the fries and a coke and he gulps and eats them quickly but at least at human speed, still looking warily at me from time to time.

“Yup?” I say, keeping half an eye on the road; we’re making a point of taking back roads and avoiding major highways. Jay has no ID yet, my family is probably looking for me and I’d bet good money on the magician in the backseat being on some kind of terrorist watch list. It does make it easier to chat and drive at least.

Jay finishes the last of the fries and drink before looking over. “Do you hate me?”

“For eating all the chicken?”

“No,” he says with a sharp shake of his head. “For taking him from you.”

No need to ask what him the kid means. “Taking him? He was never mind to begin with, Jay.”

“I mean –.” Jay falls silent, lips moving silently for a few seconds. “I forced a binding on him. I took him from you.”

“We weren’t bound.” Jay says nothing. “Friendship isn’t binding like you mean it. It’s not permanent for one thing and doesn’t have to mean more.”

“Oh.” He gnaws on his lower lip a little. “Then joining? Like thith,” pressing both his hands together, fingers interlocking. “Humanth do that.”

“Do which?”

“Make love?”

I don’t pull over. I don’t even slow down; he was young for an entity from Outside the universe, looks like a boy in ours, but I know enough to know that doesn’t have to mean anything. The magician would go on about surface not mirroring the depth, probably, because that’s how magicians talk. “No, definitely not that.”

His eyes narrow a little. “Have thex then.”

“We could. We haven’t and I doubt we ever will. Despite what the TV shows you’ve been watching on your phone claim. I think we’re friends but it’s hard to know. He doesn’t get close to people and I’m sure if he felt he had to he’d drop both of us and walk away. I think magicians learn to be like that in order to survive.” The god inside me stirs a little, or perhaps it’s only my own guesses. “I don’t think there’s a magician in the world who could survive getting their heart broken so they simply never let it happen.”

“That –.” He pauses. “Complicated.”

“Sentences.” Jay says nothing. “Well?”

He shakes his head, staring straight ahead. “I don’t want to. I am damaged,” he says, the word hissed, a brief flash of anger on his face and gone a moment later. “I don’t need – don’t want – to be reminded of it all the time?”

“Jay.” I bite back my own anger, feeling the god inside me rumble a little, eager to rise up even a little bit. “I’m not a magician, but I’m not stupid: you’re trying to hide among humans, and having a lisp is fine. The way you speak when trying to avoid them entirely isn’t: that will get noticed and remarked on. You don’t talk like a real ten year old most of the time, and not hiding the lisp will distract people from that.” He doesn’t look over, back straight, fingers curled up in his lap. “Listen, he and I travelling together doesn’t get noticedRT. I look a bit older than I am, we could be students or cousins or just friends. But throwing a ten year old boy into the mix will get noticed, no matter if your real nature is hidden or not.”

“I don’t want to,” he mumbles.

“Yeah, well I don’t want to hold back the god inside me every time I have a moment of road rage but I kind of have to do that or risk causing one hell of a scene when I drag the other driver from their vehicle.”

Jay looks over at that. “You’ve done that?”


“I’d like to thee that.”


He slumps back in the seat. “I thound thtupid,” he begins, trailing off.

“And that’s a bad thing?” I grin at the startled look on his face. “The magician didn’t ward me so I don’t seem at all important.”

“Oh,” he says slowly, then offers up a bright grin. “Tho that is why you thound dumb all the time?”

“Sounds like someone doesn’t want dessert.” His grin vanishes as his stomach lets out a growl. “Seriously?”

“Yeah. Pleathe?”

It takes a good ten minutes to find a town with a gas station. The town boasts that, two bars, an automotive shop and nothing else. Most of the homes are small and run down but it at least looks better than the last town which seemed like little more than a series of trailer parks shoved into each other. Reminded me of a joke mom used to say about how you can judge people by their furniture, mostly based on how much of it was on their front lawn.

I slip inside and use a washroom cleaner than I’d expected and shock the greasy kid behind the counter by buying every chocolate bar they have and most of the coca cola. I give him a tip for bagging it all, half-expecting this to be the highlight of his year, and head back outside. Jay has taken my request to guard the magician seriously and is standing outside the car and scanning the town warily.

He puts the food in the back, taking some into the front seat to begin eating at a slow, entirely human pace as I get in and start the car. “Something wrong?”

Jay gulps back half a can of coke to wash down a chocolate bar. “You were being watched from the vehicle place?”

I glance over casually as I pull onto the road but the automotive repair place – called Clancy’s Auto – has the sign devoid of neon, and doesn’t seem to be open despite it being mid-day. In a town this small they probably only bother when a local tells them someone needs a hand.

“The man ith there,” he says. “You need to look with thethe,” and mimes claws, “but they might detect you?”

I grunt, considering waking the magician but Jay doesn’t seem worried about it. I reach over him and find a pen and pad of paper in the glove compartment and hand them over. “Can you draw him?”

He finishes another chocolate bar. “I can try?”

I press on out of the town and pull over as we begin hitting old pot holes. Jay puts pen to paper with a scowl of concentration for a good ten minutes before handing the pad back and flexing his hand. The shop itself has been drawn with clear precision, the man in front of it a scribbled outline of a tall, stout figure in a suit and hat, the handwriting beside it neat and proper to read: ‘Black suit, tanned(?) skin’. And under tanned he’s written: ‘Dirty(?), Stained(?), ?’

“So a worker with oil stains and tanned skin?”

“I don’t – maybe?”

I flick my phone on, typed a query and hand it over. “Skin tones: pick one.” He does so slowly and hands it back. “Right. Someone who is half-Mexican would be tanned. Dirty, on the other hand, isn’t something you want to call anyone’s actual skin.”

“I didn’t mean it literal, but,” he says, starting on another candy bar, “like a magic? A ward? Like the colour can change depending on who watcheth him?”

“Him. Not an it?” He nods. “Okay: was the skin other tones as well?”

“I think –.” Jay was quiet a moment. “You don’t have any word for them.”

I rub the bridge of my nose. “You mean the words have too many esses?”

He shakes his head. “No, no: you don’t have wordth for them at all?”

I grab a chocolate bar and throw it back at the magician’s head; it takes three to wake him. “We have an issue; you explain it and I’ll drive,” I say to Jay, pulling back onto the road.

Jay nods quite seriously and scrambles into the back seat to begin talking quietly to the magician.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Road Trip Chapter 2

2. Magic & Machines

The car Charlie finds for the trip is a beat-up station wagon that has seen better decades and could probably have been re-purposed as a tank with little effort. She claims it’s a selling feature and we can run over monsters and cultists that way. It even has wood panelling on the inside and seats that had been recovered in fabric from seventies orange and brown couches. I decide not to ask if she’d bought it as a mercy to the owner. I drag up a memory from childhood and tell her the Mystery Machine would never have done that, which leaves her snickering and explaining Scooby Doo to Jay, though her version is definitely not for children.

I walk around the car as she explains Velma and Shaggy to a creature from Outside the universe. Part of me wonders what might happen if Jay is able to return home and the stories he might tell other entities, the rest is focused on weaving magic into the car. It is solid, from the era when vehicles were built to do more than boost profit margins for companies. It doesn’t want to break down, and I meet its desire with my will and weave strength and protections into it as I circle it slowly. Most of the working I make is simply ways of not being noticed by the police or anyone else seeking to bother us. Not having to get into an altercation is the best protection one needs often enough.

I circle the car three times before I stop and walk over to Charlie and Jay.

“So?” Charlie says.

“Good choice. We’ll still need to pay for gas but with luck the car won’t break down at all. You mind tossing everything in the trunk?”

She shrugs and begins grabbing duffel bags from our motel room; I walk over and sit on one of the barriers devoid of a car. Jay follows wordlessly and sits beside me.

“How strong are you?”

The boy considers that gravely for a few moments. “I think I could lift the end of a car? If I had to? Or break a door with luck? I’m not big enough to hurt people greatly.”

“And you don’t heal as far as you should. Or at all from small wounds.” He nods, biting his lower lip. His teeth seem almost human, the rest of him the same: even I can barely tell he’s not human and that’s mostly because of the binding between us. “I don’t want Charlie worrying about you, so I’d like to take that strength and make you tougher instead, if you’ll let me?”

Jay blinks. “You can do that?”

“I can try, if you’ll let me?”

“I bound my thelf too you,” he says, the word self sharp despite his lisp, “you don’t need to ask”

“This is me asking.”

“I – yeah,” he mumbles, deflating. “Can you?”

I reach out to his chest with my right hand and press into flesh. He looks human but he’s not, even if he can fool himself about that to an extent. He lets out a whine of agony that thrums along the binding between us but doesn’t scream as I push further, my hand sinking into his flesh. He is small here, would be small Outside, beyond the universe, his potential to be more shattered by forcing himself into our world to hide from something trying to destroy him.

I can’t do anything about that damage; I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I bring my need and desire to bear, reach my other hand for his hand and squeeze it, his returning squeeze a convulsion of pain that makes my hand throb a moment before the strength bleeds out of him, shifting into flesh and bone, changing itself to my desire, to Jay’s need, to our will.

I pull free finally, both my hands feeling numb, and he just sits, panting for breath, his eyes too pale to be human as he just gulps in breath after shuddering breath, the mark of my hand on his body fading from the world.

“Jay,” I say, half a question.

“I’m fine,” he says, his voice pale, but accepts my help to stand and clings to my grip as we walk back to the car.

I shake my head to any question Charlie has and get in the back. Jay crawls in beside me and passes out a moment later, body pressed into mine, using the binding to help himself heal. He was just getting used to a body in this world and I’ve twisted it up under him.

I wrap my left arm around him and ruffle his hair. “You did good.”

He relaxes into me and lets out small whimpers of pain, not protesting at all when I pull some of it out of him.

“So,” Charlie says as she pulls out of the parking lot onto the highway.

“We made him tougher. It was harder than it should have been but he should be awake in a few hours. And hungry.”

“As if he’s never not hungry,” she says with a snort. “What about me?”

“I can set up some basic wards if you want, but I’d rather not. A competent magician might – might – sense the binding between Jay and I, and I think another Other might sense what he is. If you don’t have my protections on you it could give us an edge.”

She drums her fingers on the wheel. “People might think I’m just a driver.”

I shift Jay a little; he grumbles in his sleep and shoves into my side. “That, and if some other magician manages to disrupt my magic you’d be left unaffected. Most of them won’t suspect that.”

“Huh.” Charlie glances back, then whips her phone out and snaps a picture of the both of us before turning back to the wheel.

I glance down at Jay and then up at Charlie. “He’s going to hate you for that.”

“Oh, I know.” She flashes a grin in the rear-view mirror. “You better get some rest as well. Work some magic so the two of you don’t hear my playing tunes and sleep.”

I consider protesting, but I have the pain I took from Jay to deal with and I know I need to be prepared for anything that happens next. I wrap silence around Jay as well as myself and sink into a sleep of shadow-ridden dreams where my fingers sink into flesh and burn whoever I touch and it never hurts me at all.

I decide to forget the dreams on waking.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ah, plots...

Plotting for nanowrimo continues — as I have 60,000+ words of short stories (and a novella) that basically count as back story, the novel is shaping up to be rather solid. I know the characters, though not too well, and the setting is largely fleshed out in my head.

The actual folder for the novel proper contains over 11K in notes, half of that being notes on the town of Sunny Creek, historical vs. modern magic, various notes on characters and assorted bits and bobs as I do notes very haphazardly. The novel plot itself is sitting at about 5K of words in the novel folder, most of that being the first half of the novel. All my notes are pointform summaries of ideas, digressions and in some cases sarcasm.

EX, from last night’s notes:
  • The magician losing to William. This is William’s place of power. To defeat him in it requires X [Determine what X is. This would be Helpful.]
  • Making a Deal with Mary will be considered unwise; a hundred years of imprisonment may have tempered her, but also made her seriously pissed off. (This is actually not true, but the magician will believe it to be so. Everyone makes mistakes: not trusting her is going to be a big one on his part.)
  • The townsfolk are all guiled by the wards/protections of the town (or murdered if they begin to see through the town’s protections/illusions). As such, only non-human entities will be able to aid the MCs. So now I know why I wrote over 1K of notes on fae glamours and various critters earlier this week … go me.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Road Trip Chapter 1

 1. Shadows & Cold

It isn’t every day that shadows try to kill me. Not even every week, or even month. If ever you see a shadow that you think is a person for half a moment, you’re often more right than you know: not all things from Outside have the power to enter our reality. Most Others can’t survive transit into our reality, or are too weak to be a danger, and simply press in on our world and wear it like clothing for brief moments, spasms of terror pushing at the walls of the worlds, little more than goosebumps on the skin of the universe.

Mostly, a magician can just banish them with a wave of a hand. It’s harder to do that if you’re in a restaurant bathroom and making use of toilet paper. That happened to me once before; this time I just grab the shadows and shove them into the water, flushing them down the toilet. The lightbulbs in the bathroom shatter overhead a moment later; I catch the electric light, weave it it into shattered glass and form a ward against darkness that hisses and twists in the air around me. Outside the ward I can hear tables crashing and Charlie’s voice as a muffled shout for me to hurry the hell up.

I walk forward. Need. Desire. Will. The door buckles open to that, but outside it is still darkness. People wrapped in shadow-shapes are stumbling and staggering around. Too many to control and the shadows don’t know how to let go of any of them. The afternoon sun outside the fish and chip shop has been replaced by shadowed windows, the darkness eating every piece of light and trying to force itself at Charlie. Jay is hiding between the table and wall, Charlie having called up the god inside her, all monster-under-the-bed fur and fire-stoked eyes as she grins. She has claws when she wants, and they are red and burn with a sickly light at the moment to force the shadows back.

I hurl the rest of my shield into the walls, avoiding people, directing the electricity to find other currents and rip the shadows from the world. It will take moments, but it is long enough for a shadow-person to lunge at me with a steel pan in one hand.

Jay has sprung over the table and into the man before I ever have time to convince the pan to not hit me: he’s not human either, and faster than even a magician’s will when properly motivated. Protecting me counts as that in his books. The flip side is that his body is ten, and strong or not for ten the shadow-cook hurls him into the wall with barely a pause.

I take the pause and reach out, wrapping the shadow in my will, tearing it free from the rest of the assault. “Explain this,” I say, as the shadow is ripped free of the dazed cook to writhe in the air before me under the force of my binding.

Magician, the shadow says, speaking shadow to shadow, unable to speak any other way. The lights in the ceiling flare to life and I wrap a ward around the shadow, pulling it into my shadow to bind it. I’ve never tried an anti-banishing before, but the principle seems sound enough: I hold it in the world rather than forcing it out as people stagger and look confused, memories trying to parse together a couple of missing minutes in their lives.

“Power failure?” I offer to the cook, and he lowers the pan he is holding, grabbing the explanation and shouting it to people, hurrying to help set up tables as Charlie walks over. She’s pulled most of the god back inside her but people are giving her a wide berth anyway as she glares at Jay.

“I told you to stay put and not get hurt.”

He just scowls and gets up, having left a sizable dent in the wall he hit and swaying a little. “I’m fine,” he lies, not caring if she doesn’t believe him.

“Door,” I say, giving him a light push. “We need to leave.”

“How bad is it?” Charlie says as she pushes through the confused crowd of patrons.

“I shoved some of the shadow entities into the toilet in the men’s bathroom. I doubt my explanation for all this as ‘power failure’ is going to explain away that damage.”

“Let me get this straight,” she says as we leave the restaurant. “You banished entities from Outside the universe by flushing them down a toilet?”

“Your point?”

“Does that count as redneck magic?”

I ignore her and walk around the corner, wrapping air and sound around us to confuse people, hoping it causes no seizures. It takes less than two minutes to find a boarded up shop; the back door opens up to my asking, the interior empty shelves not quite hollowed out.

“Use your lighter behind me,” I say, not looking at Charlie. “Jay, make sure no one enters after us.”

My shadow stretches in front of me a moment later. I undo the magic in it, and the other shadow flows up into the air, straining at the world.

Magician, it hisses through my shadow.

“Why this? Why now?” I say, and thread power into the words. I can speak truth that cannot be ignored; I can force the same.

Washington, it grinds out. You could not hide from us forever. The shadow shifts, white fire dancing about it to form eyes and horns and then wings for a heartbeat, gone as quickly as they form.

I don’t point out it is five years too late in seeking revenge; time doesn’t work the same Outside as it does here, assuming it works at all. I let out a breath, glad it’s not something involving Jay, and banish it with a snap of my fingers. It has nothing left to resist with, not even strength enough to speak further.

“Done,” I say, and Charlie’s lighter snaps off after she lights a cigarette. I turn and look at Jay. “It’s gone, yes?”

He studies me, then nods and offers up a thumbs up. “Yeah.”

“And that was?” Charlie says.

“A very poor assassination attempt. And if they’re hunting me, they might try for the Leo as well.” I run a hand through my hair. “Up for a road trip to Oregon?”

“Why Oregon?”

“No entity from Outside has been able to exist or manifest itself in Washington, D.C. for five years now. They’re a bit pissed off over it, and the Working linked itself to the state as well. Last I knew, Leo was staying just outside the state to see when it would begin to decay.”

Charlie takes a deep drag on her cigarette. “Is there a reason you did all that?”

“The cold war.”

“Now you’re just being an ass.”

I grin. “A little bit. I’ll tell you both en route, okay?” Jay lets out a small sigh of relief. “You thought I’d leave you behind?”

“I wa – wathn’t much good in the rethtaurant,” he offers up softly, not trying to avoid any esses under the weight of Charlie’s gaze.

“We can work on that,” I say, as we leave the store. It still feels odd to say we but I think I’m getting the hang of it. “Do we have enough money left over for gas and motels?” I ask. Definitely getting better at it.

“Maybe,” Charlie says. “Depends on how much you gave away. Also on how much the rugrat here eats.”

"I’m not a rat,” Jay snaps.

"Garbage disposal?”

He ignores her entirely and marches toward the car. I share a grin with Charlie and relax a little, feeling things easing between us all, and wondering if the road trip will stress it all to the breaking point or not.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Plotting proceeds precisely..

I've written 4,300 words in the Curdled Magics plot file. (The other file for the novel has 5,100 words at present, and there's another 1K on fae and weird critters that will be folded into that once I finish it up.) I am not a good plotter. It's all point form and there are lots of notes about 'insert Stuff here, add scenes involving X here' and a lot more that exists only in my head, like the idea of the goddess of a coffee shop manifesting near novel's end as a call back to her brief appearance earlier.

For me, this part of the process finds plot holes. EX: the story said 'Curse sends magician and Charlie to deal with Family'. And that was it. I had to figure out how they did that and to what extent they managed it. As such, what would have paused the novel for hours in writing only paused it a day in plotting as I figured out a rough way for Stuff to happen. I'm currently letting the plotting sit for two days as I figure out plans for the second half of the novel and the extent to which Sunny Creek is going to kick their asses. The magician is definitely losing one magical duel badly, beyond that I'm not sure at all. Which is half the fun of plotting, after all. I'll have a frame up by the end of it but nothing nailed down and leave the story with a lot of room to surprise me.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I was fifteen years young when I went swimming in the local lake. Because it was normal, and I still passed for normal in ways other people did. The lake was old and deep, the undertow that dragged me down a thick and dark thing. I drew up the magic in me, reached out into the world and found the sea, and the sea was older than magic and far too large for me to touch. We bargained, deep under the waters, and the sea did not take me in turn for aid when it needed aid. I was wise enough to wonder what the sea could ever need, but also to realize it was the only option I had.

Which is why I am standing on the edge of the pier in jeans and a t-shirt, my socks and shoes and personal items warded and left behind me. I told Charlie and Jake I was just going for a walk, and perhaps one of them believes me. The sea called in the tap water, in the rain that touched the earth and in my dreams: for we are born of the sea and all dream of it at some point. I wrap power about myself, and something not at all magic as well that cuts power to four city blocks.

I dive down, and the water embraces me, slides off of me. I slip through water easier than air, gliding down to the mud and sand and echoes of old magics that make up the sea bed. There are old compacts and powers that hold the ocean from the land; I don’t brush the edges of any, merely walk in the darkness lit by sea magic. The magics of the sea are a beautiful death, but against even those my bargain holds.

There are other things in the sea, too: monsters born of magics, creatures born of other worlds. Entities from outside the universe who slide into the oceans and never escape them. The bargain I made means little to them, perhaps, but I am a magician and that is enough to hold them at bay at well as I walk down until the sea rumbles with power and a deep darkness pushes in on the world from all sides. There are things in the sea older even than it, and one such stirs against ancient pacts to shudder the sea floor and shred apart the balances that hold the sea together.

“Hello,” I say, and both magic and the sea carry my voice into tones and registers not at all human.

“Magician,” the creature says, in stone and magma and the first iron. It is from before oceans and I shudder to think of how it was bound at all, or by what. “You would bind me?”

I laugh, and the laughter needs no touch of power to pierce the barriers of our natures. “You are of this world: that is not what magicians are for.”

“I itch,” it says, and far below the earth shudders and groans under movement.

“Yes. Humans, the sea says. Perhaps it is right, or perhaps it is time for you to itch.” The sea presses around me in a cold silence. “There are other options,” I say, and reach for the power I pulled down from the surface and offer it.

The creature accepts, examines, and absorbs it in the same moment, certain there is nothing I could do to harm it. Information pulses through water and air and ether for a moment, another, and it lets out a slow and deep sigh. “You expect me to hold myself back for this?”

“No. Not at all.” I spool out the last of the magic, cable tv flowing from me and to the creature. “I am showing you humanity. And what we have done. What we could do. We could leave this world without magic in time. Head to other worlds, explore other lands, and you would rise them, and move, and the sea part itself and be free of you. It is not long for you, but so long for us. You are, but we are a becoming and I ask for that chance to leave this world as you once left your own home.”

It lets out a deep, slow laugh. “You do not beg.”

“No. I offer knowledge, in the hope that we are allowed to find wisdom.”

It lets out a rumble of movement. “We are in agreement, magician. The Sea chose well,” it says before sinking deep below waters and magma, perhaps as far down as the core of the world. I don’t even attempt to follow or sense anything of it.

I turn and walk back slowly toward the world I know, and nothing of the sea stands in my way. In time it may claim me, because of bargains and debt, but this is not that time and we both know it. I climb out of water and slip into the rest of my clothing and walk slowly back toward the motel, my feet wobbly and unsteady, and it takes all the strength I have not to jump at any sound behind me, not to feel subways under me and take it as something else entirely.

Charlie and Jay are both waiting in the motel room. I am shoved into a warm blanket in silence, a hot chocolate thrust into my hands, and they each take a seat across from me and wait, the weight of them pushing something of the sea aside in time, and I speak and I say:

“I was fifteen years young when I went swimming in the local lake...”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Nanowrimo creeps up.....

As do my notes. I know the first few scenes and have figured out some of what happens when the magician returns home. So far the major beats of the novel are:
Intro: the characters find out about the town of Sunny Creek and that no one seems to know it exists.
Travel: small beats/pieces where I get to establish what each character does and how they do it. Functionally a lot like the short stories, but with less need to repeat certain information with each piece.
Sunny Creek: They reach the town, the ward on it bounces them off -- complete with curse.
Magician's Family: Scenes with his family and the town, dangers for him in returning to it and so forth.
Charlie's Family: What happens when Charlie ends up back home. What happens to a city when a god-eater leaves it? While the magician's section is more about dealing with the past he ran from, hers is about realizing the present she created.
Sunny Creek (2): They return and Deal With the rogue town. This will, ideally, be  the last half of the novel.
End beat: Charlie probably heads off to do her Own Thing for a time. Not sure what else happens.

Most of this is vaguely plotted in my head, and some sections are more detailed than others. I write out a certain amount of plot -- including notes to  myself and background bits -- but a lot of the story is left to develop on page from my vague ideas. It's pretty much akin to pantsing with suspenders, really.

EX: the term 'Cone and Grave' was made up for one of the stories. I had no idea what it meant at all and it is now a major plot point for the novel and series overall.

On the major plus(?) column, I do know all the main characters rather well as they've not lived in my head for months. Technically the magician has been in it since ~2007, waiting for his story to be continued. This will make some things easier in terms of what the characters do and how they react to events, but also limit their reaction(s) more than if I was making them up more on the fly in terms of personality and history.

The other big plus of this is that I get to visit their families and show the impact of them on their lives, which IS huge. Every novel I write is, at the core of it, about family -- the one you're born to, not 'the one you choose' and other such statements. It shall be great fun to explore facets of the characters the readers have never seen before and tease out stuff I've barely hinted at.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013


“Look, Evan, that’s just the way it is: you can’t be a vegan goth and wear leather. Anne-Marie will have a spazzfit if you show up in a dead cow. You do know leather comes from cows, right? I remember our talk about pigs.…”

“You’re never letting me live that down, are you?” he muttered. Evan and I have been off-and-on friends for years. We drifted apart over music, united later by goth. It’s probably not meant for that, but movements that can’t move don’t. I went all dark and red lips, he was for black and white, face-paint and everything, as much because he made him look like a starving vampire as because it made his father twitch and question his son’s sexuality. It didn’t make my parents give any less of a shit about me. But I tried.

“I could go for fake leather,” he snapped as he vaulted the fence to the cemetery.

I wasn’t near as graceful over, but landed quiet enough behind him. Everyone knew the old Hillborough Cemetery had a guard, but aside from Halloween old Warren mostly spent his time cleaning it up during the day and deep into booze at night. Amanda told me once I was into goth because it helped hide curves; the worst about about a bitch is when they’re not all wrong. Not that I’d ever tell her.

“Fake leather is glorifying the death of animals,” I said, quoting one of the videos Anne-Marie had brought to class once. A third of the way through the one about spider chickens, a third of the class had thrown up. By the halfway point everyone had been asking about sequels and comparing it to the Saw movies. Not what she’d had in mind. It’s hard to be revolutionary in a world of assholes.

Evan pulled out a flashlight, shone it about and began picking his way toward the old church. It hadn’t seen use in fifteen years, ever since a storm collapsed half the roof and it was cheaper to build a new one than fix it. Tradition comes with a price tag, as the local paper had pointed out. We had to read it in politics class, probably to put us off of reading a newspaper ever again.

I picked my way behind him, glad I’d worn shoes. “What are we doing here?”

“The church is said to be haunted.”

“It’s a church, not a haunted house. Who’d haunt that?”

“Pissed-off altar boys?”

He had a point. “And you learned about this where?”

“The internet.” He added nothing else. I wondered if it was on usenet but didn’t push: my friends didn’t know I was any kind of geek and I wasn’t about to let them.

“Fine.” I walked up beside him and toward the church. “What happens if it’s a bad ghost?”

“We lay it to rest, of course.”

“You brought stuff for that?”

“You don’t need stuff, just kindness. You can do that, right?”

“Bite me.”

The church entrance wasn’t engulfed in weeds, which at least meant someone was keeping it clean. It was one of the large domed affairs with holes where stained-glass windows had once been, giving it the appearance of a large gaping eyes. The kind of place designed to glorify God and make people seem like shit, but even now it boasted a sturdy padlock and chains over the front door.

“Check for a back door,” Evan said as he walked up to it. I bit back a rude word and wandered behind the building.

I wasn’t afraid, but I wasn’t about to tell anyone – not even Evan – that the reason was that the monster in my closest was scarier than some empty church. I was way too old to believe or be scared by it, but the memory had never gone away. The back door was locked as well, though the padlock was less impressive-looking. I gave it a tug, the shrugged and headed around the side to find a side entrance devoid of padlock or lock at all.


Nothing. I wasn’t about to shout and alert Warren that we were here: drunk or not, he could still call the cops. I shoved the door open and walked inside, a little disappointed when it didn’t squeal like a stuck pig like they did in movies.

Inside the door was a run-down old kitchen: everything useful and not bolted down had long ago been salvaged to leave behind old appliances and range hoods. No animals, which was kind of odd, but there was enough moonlight through broken windows and the ruins of the roof to make my way into the church proper.

There was a nun in the church. A real one, all black and white habit, kneeling down to pray at the altar: it hadn’t been moved out, partly because a roof beam had been fallen on it and because people said altars shouldn’t be moved, that they belonged to the church they were built for. She was kneeling, silent, in a patch of weak-ass moonlight.

“The church is closed,” she said without looking back.

“We were curious.” I said, walking forward. “We didn’t think anyone’d be here, let alone praying.”

She stood and turned. She was thin and old, tired-looking and worn out. “What is a church for if not praying?”

“Waiting for the service to be over,” I said, matching her tone. I’d never liked going to church at all: far as I could tell it was all about men oppressing women and kids and adults using any excuse they could to justifying being assholes. And it had taken the best excuse for getting knocked up and given it to Mary: hard to repeat that one.

“Yes. They did that so often,” she said, and something about her voice gave me goosebumps. “The power they gave me was never enough for a miracle that could last and not a one dared truly believe. They might have, had you not come here. Had you not taken so much from me.”

“What?” I said.

She stepped forward. I’d never seen a nun move so fast, but she was in front of me before I could blink, her eyes so kind it was somehow cruel as she reached out a hand and dropped it. “You don’t know. O, child. I cannot place this burden on you in good conscience, no matter that you are my death.”

I took stumbling steps backward in the direction of get-the-fuck-away. I couldn’t see any medicaid bracelet but she was clearly a few bricks short of anything. She didn’t move, and I spun and bolted out back through the side door before she went crazy-nuts for my eyes or something. I spun back once outside and –

– there wasn’t a door. Just a wall. I stepped forward. Hit it. Hit it again. Swore. Walked to the front of the church pretty much on autopilot.

Evan had the door open, the padlock open on the ground, his left hand wrapped up in a bloody bandage. I wanted to ask why he’d brought a bandage, how he’d cut himself, but nothing would come out.

I don’t know what he saw in my face, but he pushed the door open quickly and glared into the church as if daring anyone to be inside. It was empty. No nun to be seen, just the remains of the altar and broken pews. We walked forward as he played his flashlight around with a scowl. “Empty.”

“Yeah.” I walked past the altar, turned to check the way I’d ran. A kitchen, but its door connected it to the back. No side door, on easy access to the altar. No dust. I started, walked back into the main church and ran my fingers over the floor, pews, even the altar.

“No dust,” I said. “Shouldn’t churches have dust?”

“Wind,” Evan said curtly.

I said nothing to that and walked back outside, thinking about miracles people couldn’t believe and lies brains tell us until the world seemed sane and solid. It took time, but I figured a few drinks would help.

We never talked about that night after, not even once.

And we never went out looking for a haunted house again.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Annnd ... the magician series novella is done!

Or at least the first draft of Road Trip! is finished. It clocked in at almost 19,000 words with 17 chapters, so my goal of roughly 1.2K a chapter wasn't all that bad an estimate. Parts of it suffered from trying to make them like the short story sections and I'll need to redo some bits and make it overall more cohesive but it wasn't a bad experiment at all.

It does, however, make not using the magician's name difficult. So I'll probably get it out of the way relatively quickly in the novel (I might have his sister use it first). It does highlight that the largely present-tense first person style I use for most of the stories won't work for an entire novel, but I pretty much knew that already. I think I'll go with first person for the novel, mostly using the magician as the POV character though I do plan to switch over to Charlie at some points.

Other plus sides: I figured out wth is up with Jay, which is important. I need to work on what being a god-eater means/does a little more, though now Charlie is aware that the magician is deliberately steering her away from gods. Though not why. The tug-of-war between adventure, travel and trust between them is a huge part of the series though I think the novel will end with Charlie heading off to do her own thing for a time. It also removes a crutch the magician can lean on to avoid doing things that need to be done, which will be handy down the road.

Now to work on plot ideas for the novel ....

Friday, October 11, 2013

Magician Series Meta Post

These are a series of stories about a magician in his early 20s as he wanders america and walks in a world of small wonders, working little magics to help the world and dealing with problems magic is sometimes both the cause of and solution to. At the bone of it, magic is about banishing creatures from Outside the universe back to where they came from; the meat of it is far more complicated and involves needs and desires, wishes and wants and the limits of both imagination, will, and what the world will allow. The magician narrates most of the stories and is, thus far, unnamed in them.

Charlie has been travelling with him for close to a month. She is 17, all punk and cigarettes, and is both an eater of gods and carrying a god inside her. Said god was the monster under her bed as a child – she finds it safer not to think about theology knowing that. She scares people more than the magician does, when she lets her nature show, and is convinced he is only allowing her to travel with him so that he can bind and destroy her if the need arises: it was his working of magic that woke her to her nature, and magic does not allow one to evade responsibility in the way that true power does.

Jay appears to be a 10 year old boy. For one night, he even had fangs. Now he doesn’t and seems entirely human, even to magicians who should know otherwise. What is certain is that he is an entity from Outside the universe and was fleeing being devoured by another when he hijacked a student exchange trip between the universe and Outside [something the magician decided it was safest to not enquire about deeply] and ended up in the universe, on earth, and ran into the magician. He barely survived the transit and his nature was permanently damaged, causing him to have a lisp as a minor manifestation of it and causing him to bind himself to the magician as a servant in order to survive. He has effectively made them into his family regardless of what the magician or Charlie might want.

The magician has a family, but seldom talks about them. His father was a magician and he ended up burning him to ashes in a duel over abuses of magic and the murdering of people. He doesn’t talk about that much. Charlie’s parents, in turn, seem to have a fairly strained relationship and thus far her wandering off from school with a magician seems to have elicited no response from them.

The only other named person who has shown more than once is Mary-Lee, the oldest magician in the world. She is said to be a pharaoh by some and is all wrinkles, layers of clothing and an appalling smell. Almost all her magic seems to have fallen inward and is keeping her alive and, according to Jay, she actually isn’t human anymore. She seems to have some fascination with the magician but why and to what end is unknown.  

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

According to the New York Times, dogs are people too. Aka: MRI-scans of brains of dogs not under anesthesia and so forth, the relevant quote being:
But now, by using the M.R.I. to push away the limitations of behaviorism, we can no longer hide from the evidence. Dogs, and probably many other animals (especially our closest primate relatives), seem to have emotions just like us. And this means we must reconsider their treatment as property.
All of which reminds me of one story seed (it never became a real novel, but I made it a role-playing game years back), which was predicated on the notion that animals -- via magic in this case, I believe -- became able to speak, and the extent to which it altered the entire world.

Might have to revisit the concept at some point.


His name is Jacob Rasteur. He's 16, into occult books from libraries and has probably read too much stuff about 'Do what thou wilt' and the like. Charlie checked his facebook account and a few other places while I browsed the local paper. Mysterious lights. Odd accidents at the school. Little bits of nastiness left to fester. He's not a magician yet, but you can see it from where he is if you squint a little. I arrange for his parents to leave town with tickets to a ball game. He doesn't ask them why, doesn't even wonder at how his mother doesn't much like ball games since he's glad to have their house to himself for an entirely Saturday afternoon.

"You're picking the lock," Charlie says as I crouch by the back door, in a suffering tone. Jay is standing behind her with headphones shoved into his ears. I can hear classical music coming out of them but he's not moving to the beat at all, just listening to us and waiting. "Because he has some kind of magical wards up?"

"No. Rusty. I had a cousin with interesting hobbies when I was younger: he taught me to pick locks," I say between wiggling the credit card carefully. "And before you huff, I do have wards around us so the neighbours don't call the police."

"I don't huff. Or puff," she adds, but resists comments about breaking the door down, probably because I'm expecting some.

"Edmund Hillary's daughter found us using money, Charlie. It's easy to get so caught up in magic that we forget that options exists." I give the door one tug, then another, and pull it open carefully. "He's in the basement. Jay, down the steps, distract him. He'll try and bind you, you ignore it. Charlie, up here as back up."

"Back up."

"He could have allies. Also, he might see what you are and panic to the tune of gas main explosions and a levelled home. I'd rather avoid that."

"And he won't be scared of you?" she snaps.

I just smile and walk into the small, neat kitchen. The basement door isn't even locked and not warded at all, which means overconfidence or ignorance but it's often hard to tell the two apart.

Jay hands Charlie his phone as I open the door and is simply gone a moment later, down the stairs and in the basement before either of us register the movement. I wander down rickety wooden stairs to find myself in a cement unfinished basement complete with a giant pentagram drawn on the floor and candles painted black burning with pale green fire at each corner of it.

Jacob Rasteur is a pudgy scowl of a kid who is calling up fire and hurling it as actual balls of flame at Jay, the room cooling along with his body as he draws up heat to turn into flame, the candles guttering out to no effect at all. The walls are decorated in a half-dozen scorch marks as Jay springs aside from each. His skin is ivory pale now, eyes clear and glowing in the basement and moving faster than each fireball, his grin huge and delighted. He's spent a week eating food and healing as much as he could from the transit to our world and sticks his tongue out at the magician in a bid to impress me.

Jacob clenches his fists and screams a Word that seems like something from a bad fantasy novel. Intent matters more than words, and the banishment is thrust of pure will that ripples the air in front of the magician. Jay dives and rolls to the side, and the second banishment is at least a sane attempt that envelops the entire room.

Jay scrambles to his feet with a yelp of pained surprise as Jacob advances on him, trembling with effort. The pentagram he'd been drawing power into was his need to be left along, an attempt to alter the minds of his parents to obey his will. I undo the entire thing and he doesn't even notice, gaze locked on Jay.

"Your true name binds you," Jacob shouts, as if shouting would increase the power he put behind the words. "Speak!"

Jay shakes his head; he can't speak his true name and refuses to even try despite the whimper of pain that escapes him as the magician's voice batters into him. Jacob has wrapped the binding around him, threading it through earth and air, stone and ether, looking perplexed as it keeps sliding off of Jay.

"Jay is protected."

I pitch my voice mildly, but Jacob still spins back too fast, almost toppling over for a moment. He's cold, shivering, eyes glazed with exhaustion he hasn't noticed yet, but at least has skill enough to keep Jay held to the wall.

Jacob throws up his right hand in a warding gesture, fingers trembling with effort. He's too cold for fire and doesn't consider pulling the cold out of him as ice.

I undo the binding around Jay with a single flicker of desire, and Jacob gulps breaths as energy returns to him and hurls it at me with a thrust of both his hands.

I undo the fire with a twisting of a finger, giving back to the world the energy he's been taking from it for his pentagram and warding it against his use.

"Magician," he wheezes, the word half a question.

"Yes." Jay stretches behind him, flexing fingers questioningly and I shake my head to him. "You've drained yourself and the area to no effect, Jacob. You can keep trying or we can talk."

His answering grin is bared teeth. No one has hurt him since he gained magic; nothing has beaten him, his life become his own. He reaches for power in the only way left and I step forward and drive a knee between his legs.

Jacob hits the ground in gasp a moment later. There are few things more dangerous than giving power to those who desire it; too often all it makes is another bully.

"Lesson one: only drain your own life if you know how to do it so it isn't permanent. Lesson two: don't be in situations where you have to drain your own life permanently." I crouch down as he tries to stand and curls up in pain instead. "Lesson three: pay attention to the world around you."

I pull out a small business card and drop it on the basement beside him. "Go to this bookshop if you still want to be a magician. You'll need more than eyes to see it and the owner can direct you to better texts." I stand. "And, for the record, Crowley's line about 'Do what Thou wilt', meant Thou as being your own higher self, which I hope is kinder than you are."

I walk out without another word; he doesn't try to stop us from leaving.

"Are you okay?" I say to Jay as we get outside.

He considers that, stretches a little, then nods. "I'm kind of hungry?"

"There are times when you aren't?" Charlie says dryly.

Jay considers that. "When I'm dead?"

"The term is sleeping," I say. "You're not actually dead when you sleep."

He says nothing to that at all.

"Right. You want to get lunch?" I say to Charlie, who just holds out a hand for money. I make no comment about her own wallet and hand over a few bills.

"You coming?" she says, quieter as Jay heads to the street.

"In a few minutes. Making protections just in case."

She glances at Jacob's home, then me, and just squeezes my shoulder once before walking away.  

Sunday, October 06, 2013


The penthouse suite of the hotel has a private kitchen for our use, which is a little silly. The jacuzzi, bathtub, shower and bath are a lot of silly, but Charlie figured we should use the last of the money we gained from getting Edward Hillary in trouble on something spectacular. I've given away over half of it to small book stores and some Entities in the world in need of money while Charlie is using most of what's left to buy us all new clothing and find a cheap vehicle to buy.

I decided to leave her to it and bought some fruit for a salad since I haven't made a real meal in weeks. I'm halfway through chopping up the apples when Jay walks into the kitchen. He still looks to be about ten and too pale but at least passes entirely as human: if I didn't know what he was, I'd have no clue he was anything other than a quiet kid rather than an entity from Outside the universe in humanoid form. Even the binding he did to make himself my servant is hard for me to sense.

"I thought you were watching the TV?"

He shrugs, studying the counter top. "I could help?" he says carefully, having made sure there were no esses in the sentence before speaking it. It drives Charlie a little nuts but I don't push him on it.

I give him a paring knife and leave him peeling potatoes with it for dinner. He offers up no conversation, his contentment like a cat sleeping at the edge of a bed. I'm almost finished the salad when the paring knife hits the tiled floor.


He looks up from the counter, his eyes too-pale and wide, holding up his right hand where the blade sliced his index finger. "It hurtth!"

I put my knife down and walk over. "Jay. Focus on me."

He does, vibrating with panic. A small wound like this should have sealed up instantly, even as weak as he is.

"Bathroom." He follows without a word, finger stuck in his mouth until I pull it out. I get bandages, peroxide, clean the wound and bind it. "You don't need the peroxide, but humans will wonder if if isn't used," I say as I wrap the cut up, trying to keep my tone calming.

He just bites his lower lip and whispers my name in a small, scared tone afterward.

"Come on." I lead him to the couch and sit. He sits as well, crowding in close. "Try and relax."

He tries, fails. I press my right hand over his chest and relax, letting my senses drift into his body and then add a small bit of magic to go with the will before opening my eyes. My relaxing has relaxed him a little but he still looks scared.

"Jay. The remote on the couch; can you get it quickly?"

He doesn't ask a question and is gone from the couch and back to it in a blur almost too fast for my senses to follow.

I reach my senses into him again as I take the remote. He sits without asking, trying not to tremble.

"I told you to hide your nature, didn't I?" A nod. "You're doing it so well that you're hiding you from yourself as near as I can tell, at least when it comes to small wounds."

"Oh." His gaze flicks away from me to the kitchen counter.

"And you're not going to inflict a deeper wound on yourself to test that, okay?"

He scowls and lets out a sigh. "Fine."

"It still hurts."

"Yeth. Yeah," he corrects, flushing a little, a little better if he's trying to avoid any esses again. Each one reminds him of how damaged his body really is.

"Okay." I flick the tv on to cartoons. "The salad can wait."

Jay blinks, then curls into my body when I don't move away and just watches the tv and trembles in silence for a good half hour before falling asleep.

I wrap the sleep tighter about him and stand, heading into the kitchen to finish the salad. Charlie comes in two hours later with over a dozen bags in either hand, a bare hint of god-claws and a glint of red in her eyes as she drops them all around the other couch.

I raise my eyebrows as she lets the god-monster inside her slip back within, power folding in on itself. "You could have asked someone to help you."

She shrugs. "Half of it is mine, most of the rest for Jay –" and pauses, gaze flicking over to him. "Sleeping? He didn't exhaust himself trying something, did he?"

"He cut his finger open and the wound bled without healing."

"It should have healed?" I nod. "Okay. Why didn't it?"

"Pretend you're going to eat him like you can eat gods. What he is?"

Charlie sniffs, sniffs again, eyes unfocusing. "Human. The hell?"

"Even to my senses he passes as human. I can barely sense the binding between us."

"So he's, what, so good at seeming human he fakes himself out?"

"I think so. If you'd asked before today I wouldn't have said it was possible. I don't think he has any trace of vampire left in him: no fangs, no damage to his nature from sunlight. Just speed and hiding, which I imagine his real form was made for."

"Huh." Charlie sniffs again, then walks over and snags a strawberry. "You're the magician: what's it mean?"

"I have no idea. I'll need to make some phone calls to old friends and see if anyone has heard of this happening before." I dump salad into a bowl before Charlie can pick out all the strawberries and shake Jay awake with a small flick of power.

He gulps down the food, eyes straying to the bandaged finger a few times but he says nothing at all, determined to be brave.

Charlie coughs and hands me the local paper. "Thought you might want this."

I skim the feature article about odd events in the town: mostly weird things happening at the local high school. There are few things as dangerous as new magicians. "Eat first; we'll look into it after."

Jay looks up at that. "Eating is definitely first," he says firmly.

Charlie rolls up the newspaper and he just grins and goes back to eating.

I finish my share of the salad slowly, thinking about new magicians and the ways in which everything can go wrong and trying not to think too hard about what Jay might really be once he heals if he can hide himself so completely. Terrorizing a new magician into sanity was going to be child’s play next to this problem.

Friday, October 04, 2013


Another prompt from the Monkey.

I don’t like loose ends. Magic is by nature untidy – a fraying at the edges of knowing – but no magicians like loose ends. The past has a way of catching up with the present and if one is a magician it sometimes gallops or sneaks up to deliver new wounds and rip open old ones when least expected. But it is the nature of people to forget, to foreswear pain, to cease probing a wound that will not heal.

Two nights of nightmare shadows wreathed in dire dissolved me of that notion. On the third night I walked through the grey lands to my father’s grave. The land of the ghosts is all grey hauntings and things forgot: people, dreams, memories. Sometimes places haunt themselves in recursive echoes, other times they simply are.

No magician has ever become a ghost, but it is faster to travel throug this place than by other means, and any place of death is an easy exit. One does not travel lightly or without protection. There are wards and powers one can invoke. I am a magician, and I was in a really foul moon. That sufficed as well.

His grave was a simply marker in a wall, the body cremated into ash as though I had not burned it enough when I killed him. I had reasons and most of them were good, and at the end of the day the world had one less monster in it. There is no ghost of my father, no spirit, no traces of the sacrifice-driven magic he used.

But there are his victims. I can feel them, cold and hot winds blowing about the air, voice crying out at the edges of hearing. His death was not enough. For ghosts, no vengeance is ever enough: their death distills their life to one moment, to one emotion, played back until it consumes them. Most ghosts are harmless and the world can count itself very lucky that this is so.

This many ghosts with one aim could be dangerous if they joined together, became something more. I shove my hands deeper into my pockets and call up heat to warm me. “He is dead,” I say, and power lends certainty to my voice, carries it into places where even the dead can’t help but here. “You do not belong here.”

Some claim that in the beginning there was light. Before that there was darkness, which was also spoken. And before that, Words were spoken to clear emptiness so that the universe could exist at all. I speak a Word of cleansing that wipes every ghost from the cemetery entirely and probably most in the city as well. There will be nightmares of voice and an a feeling of watching emptiness will press in on light sleepers. I will pay prices for this in time. I don’t give a shit.

I open a door to the grey lands and walk away without looking back.

Boy and Fox rummagings

I have had a project for five years called Boy and Fox. It is about a boy stripped of memories and a trickster fox called Reynard and a girl named Bess who is perhaps a wolf and always more than she appears. And there are ogres who eat the fox, because what else should happen to your spirit guide?There are finished drafts that did not work. There are many, many half-finished drafts.

The first 10 pages work. The rest always falls apart once the plot rears up to interfere with the story. The plot has changed a lot over those five years, from the world Boy wanders being his own mind and him being in a coma to it being another world with him having been forced into being the heir to a throne.

And for some reason my brain circled back to it over my first cup of coffee this morning. And went: what if? What if I took the story and put it in the real world? Boy wanders out of the wasting and the woods with Mr. Fox into the real world, his head as empty as his heart is full, and has to try and navigate the edges of his own loss -- to find out what was lost, and perhaps why -- and stumble a path toward the person he was.

If he wants to be them, of course. Because in most iterations of the tale, Boy was not a nice person. Or, more accurately, a nice person who was easily led to doing evil things ....